Covid-19: Delta variant now dominant, warns CS Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (centre) briefs the media at Afya House on July 28, 2021. He is flanked by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok (right) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) Executive Secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehu.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The Health ministry on Wednesday confirmed that the Delta variant is now dominant as Kenya experiences a third wave, but did not share exact figures regarding its reach in the country.

With the country recording three variants of concern so far, Delta - whose origin is India - is said to be responsible for the recent spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.

Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe, however, said that despite the sharp increase in the positivity rate, the country is yet to transition to the fourth wave as was earlier predicted by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

“The dominant variant, irrespective of the specific numbers in each county, remains the Delta variant. We are already in it and it is spreading in the community,” said Mr Kagwe today.

Experts, however, are calling for transparency with regard to genome sequencing, advising that such data when shared with the public contributes to individual vigilance and therefore a better public health outcome.

But Dr Patrick Amoth, the the acting Director General for Health, today insisted Kenya is in fact a powerhouse in genome sequencing of Covid-19 variants.

“Our genome sequencing capacity is adequate. We are even helping other countries such as South Sudan, Somali, Comoros among others. We are not in the same place as we were when the pandemic started where we only had one centre for genomic surveillance. We now have three; in Kilifi, Kisumu and Nairobi,” said Dr Amoth.

He, however, seems to have changed tune from a previous press briefing where he said that genomic sequencing was not a walk in the park.

“Genome sequencing is tedious and expensive. Even the reagents we use are expensive. We got the variants from the few samples tested,” Dr Amoth said earlier this year on March 24.

Positivity rate in Nairobi 'worrying' 

CS Kagwe also raised the red flag over the capital's positivity rate, saying it is the most worrying.

He said the government is shifting its focus from the lake region as the hotspot to Nairobi and other counties. 

“Nairobians are in most danger and they should be vigilant as far as the virus is concerned. Experts are still in the process of reviewing containment measures in the western region as the positivity rate has gone down but a decision has not been made yet,” he said.

Mr Kagwe also appealed to politicians to be sensitive to the country's health situation and urged citizens to keep off rallies organised by leaders.

“If you do not go to those rallies, they will not come since they do not have anyone to talk to. We have seen such rallies overrun the health sector in other countries, it can as well happen in our country,” he said.

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